Monday, August 7, 2017

The Big Dreams Beach Hotel Reminds Us Why We LOVE Summer Fiction (giveaway)

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book info and giveaway, free of charge,from harper Impulse, for blog posting purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.


The Big Dreams Beach Hotel banner

Today I have the perefect end of Summer romance book for you:

It's got romance, but it's not a love story.

It's got dreams, both lost and found.

It's got culture clashes and eccentric characters.

It's even got a basset hound named Barry.

Now you know that last part made you LAUGH, and this book will too!




Synopsis:

Rosie’s life isn’t exactly going the way she expected. Three years after ditching her career dreams in New York City, she’s still managing the faded Victorian hotel back in Scarborough - her seaside hometown.

The hotel’s new owners want to turn the quintessentially English institution into a copy of their Florida properties... flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s oddball residents stand in the way of the developers’big plans. To them, the hotel is both home and family.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce all thechanges. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side. He might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends. What’s worse, she’s supposed to be helping him do it. 

This is Rosie’s only chance to revive the career she’s always wanted. But how can she follow her dreams, if it means ending everyone else’s?

Book Excerpt:
(first chapter)

Chapter 1

New York is where I fell head over heels for a bloke named Chuck. I know: Chuck. But
don’t judge him just because he sounds like he should be sipping ice-cream floats at the
drive-in or starring in the homecoming football game. Rah rah, sis boom bah, yay, Chuck!
Believe me, I didn’t plan for a Chuck in my life. But that’s how it happens, isn’t it?
One minute you’ve got plans for your career and a future that doesn’t involve the inconvenience of being in love, and the next you’re floating around in full dozy-mare
mode.

I won’t lie to you. When Chuck walked into our hotel reception one afternoon in late October, it wasn’t love at first sight. It was lust.

Be still, my fluttering nethers.

Talk about unprofessional. I could hardly focus on what he was saying. Something
about organising Christmas parties.

‘To be honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing,’ he confided as he leaned against
the reception desk. His face was uncomfortably close to mine, but by then I’d lived in
New York for eighteen months. I was used to American space invaders. They’re not
being rude, just friendly. And Chuck was definitely friendly.

‘I only started my job about a month ago,’ he told me. ‘It’s my first big assignment,
so I really can’t fuck it up. Sorry, I mean mess it up.’ His blue (so dark blue) eyes bore
into mine. ‘I’m hoping someone here can help me.’

It took all my willpower not to spring over the desk to his aid. Not that I’m at all
athletic. I’d probably have torn my dress, climbed awkwardly over and landed face-first
at his feet.

Keep him talking, I thought, so that I could keep staring. He looked quintessentially
American, with his square jawline and big straight teeth and air of confidence, even
though he’d just confessed to being hopeless at his new job. His brown hair wasn’t too
long but also wasn’t too short, wavy and artfully messed up with gel, and his neatly
trimmed stubble made me think of lazy Sunday mornings in bed.

See what I mean? Lust.

‘I noticed you on my way back from Starbucks,’ he said.

At first, I thought he meant he’d noticed me. That made me glance in the big mirror
on the pillar behind him, where I could just see my reflection from where I was
standing. At five-foot four, I was boob-height behind the desk in the gunmetal-grey
fitted dress uniform all the front-desk staff had to wear. My wavy dark-red hair was as
neat as it ever got. I flashed myself a reflected smile just to check my teeth. Of course, I
couldn’t see any detail from where I stood. Only my big horsy mouth. Mum says giant
teeth make my face interesting. I think I look a bit like one of the Muppets.

‘Do you have the space for a big party?’ he said. ‘For around four hundred people?’
He didn’t mean he’d noticed me; only the hotel. ‘We’ve got the Grand Ballroom and
the whole top floor, which used to be the restaurant and bar. I think it’s even prettier
than the ballroom, but it depends on your style and your budget and what you want to
do with it.’

Based on his smile, you’d have thought I’d just told him we’d found a donor kidney
for his operation. ‘I’ve been looking online, but there are too many choices,’ he said. ‘Plus, my company expects the world.’ He grimaced. ‘They didn’t like the hotel they used
last year, or the year before that. I’m in over my head, to be honest. I think I need a
guiding hand.’

I had just the hand he was looking for, and some ideas about where to guide it.
But instead of jumping up and down shouting ‘Pick Me, Pick Me!’, I put on my
professional hat and gave him our events brochure and the team’s contact details.
Because normal hotel receptionists don’t launch themselves into the arms of
prospective clients.

When he reached over the desk to shake my hand, I had to resist the urge to bob a
curtsy. ‘I’m Chuck Williamson. It was great to meet you, Rosie.’

He knew my name!

‘And thank you for being so nice. You might have saved my ass on this one. I’ll talk
to your events people.’ He glanced again at my chest.

He didn’t know my name. He’d simply read my name badge.

No sooner had Chuck exited through the revolving door than my colleague, Digby,
said, ‘My God, any more sparks and I’d have had to call the fire department.’
Digby was my best friend at the hotel and also a foreign transplant in Manhattan –
where anyone without a 212 area code was foreign. Home for him was some little town
in Kansas or Nebraska or somewhere with lots of tornadoes. Hearing Digby speak
always made me think of The Wizard of Oz, but despite sounding like he was born on a
combine harvester, Digby was clever. He did his degree at Cornell. That’s the Holy Grail
for aspiring hotelies (as we’re known).

Digby didn’t let his pedigree go to his head, though, like I probably would have.
‘Just doing my job,’ I told him. But I knew I was blushing.

Our manager, Andi, swore under her breath. ‘That’s the last thing we need right
now – some novice with another Christmas party to plan.’

‘That is our job,’ Digby pointed out.

‘Your job is to man the reception desk, Digby.’

‘Ya vol, Commandant.’ He saluted, before going to the other end of the desk.
‘But we do have room in the schedule, don’t we?’ I asked. Having just come off a
rotation in the events department the month before, I knew they were looking for more
business in that area. Our room occupancy hadn’t been all the company hoped for over
the summer.

‘Plenty of room, no time,’ Andi snapped.

I’d love to tell you that I didn’t think any more about Chuck, that I was a cool
twenty-five- year-old living her dream in New York. And it was my dream posting. I still
couldn’t believe my luck. Well, luck and about a million hours earning my stripes in the
hospitality industry. I’d already done stints in England and one in Sharm El Sheikh –
though not in one of those fancy five-star resorts where people clean your sunglasses on
the beach. It was a reasonable four-star one.

There’s a big misconception about hotelies that I should probably clear up. People
assume that because we spend our days surrounded by luxury, we must live in the same
glamour. The reality is 4a.m. wake-ups, meals eaten standing up, cheap living
accommodation and, invariably, rain on our day off. Sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?

But I loved it. I loved that I was actually being paid to work in the industry where I
did my degree. I loved the satisfied feeling I got every time a guest thanked me for
solving a problem. And I loved that I could go anywhere in the world for work.
I especially loved that last part.

But back to Chuck, who’d been stuck in my head since the minute he’d walked
through the hotel door.

I guess it was natural, given that I hadn’t had a boyfriend the whole time I’d been
in the city. Flirting and a bit of snogging, yes, but nothing you could call a serious
relationship.

There wasn’t any time, really, for a social life. That’s why hotelies hang out so
much with each other. No one else has the same hours free. So, in the absence of other
options, Digby and I were each other’s platonic date. He sounds like the perfect gay best
friend, right? Only he wasn’t gay. He just had no interest in me. Nor I in him, which made
him the ideal companion – hot enough in that freckle-faced farm-boy way to get into the
nightclubs when we finished work at 1 or 2a.m., but not the type to go off shagging and
leave me to find my way home on the subway alone.

‘I hope you’re happy,’ Andi said to me one morning a few days later. The thing about
Andi is that she looks annoyed even when she’s not, so you’ve got to pay attention to her
words rather than the severe expression on her narrow face. Nothing annoyed Andi like
other people’s happiness.

But I had just taken my first morning sip of caramel latte. Who wouldn’t be happy?
‘You’ve got another assignment,’ she said. ‘That Christmas party. You’re on it.’
‘But I’m on reception.’ My heart was beating faster. She could only be talking about
one Christmas party.

‘Yes, and you’re not going to get any extra time for the party, so don’t even think
about it. I can’t spare anyone right now. You’ll have to juggle. He’s coming in at eleven to
see the spaces and hopefully write a big fat cheque, but I want you back here as soon as
you’re finished. Consider it an early lunch break.’

Even though my mind warned me to stop questioning, in case she changed her
mind, I couldn’t resist. ‘Why isn’t Events handling it?’

‘They would have if he hadn’t asked for you especially. It’s just my luck that it’s a
huge party. We can’t exactly say no.’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘Then wipe that stupid grin off your face and next time try not to be so frickin’
nice.’

‘I need to use the loo,’ I told her.

‘Pee on your own time,’ she said.

I didn’t really have to go, despite the industrial-size caramel latte. I just wanted to
put on some make-up before Chuck arrived. Instead he’d see my green eyes
unhighlighted by the mascara and flicky eyeliner that I rarely remembered to use.
Pinching my cheeks did bring up a bit of colour behind my freckles, at least.
Every time the revolving doors swung round, I looked up to see if it was Chuck.
‘You’re going to get repetitive strain in your neck,’ Digby pointed out. ‘And you
know our workmen’s comp sucks, so save yourself the injury. Besides, you look too
eager when you stare at the door like that.’

‘I’m putting on a convivial welcome for our guests,’ I said. ‘Just like it says in the
Employee’s Manual.’

He shook his head. ‘There’s no way that what you’re thinking is in the manual.’
The weather had turned cold, which was the perfect excuse for woolly tights and
cosy knits or, if you were Chuck, a navy pea coat with the collar turned up that made
him look like he’d been at sea. In a suit and dress shoes.

‘I’m so sorry I’m late,’ he said. ‘I hate wasting people’s time.’

‘It’s not a waste,’ I told him. ‘I’m just working.’ I caught Andi’s glare. ‘I mean, I’m on
reception. I can show you the rooms any time you want.’

Anytime you want, Digby mimicked behind Chuck’s back. Luckily Andi didn’t catch
him.

‘Thanks for agreeing to take on the party,’ he said as we shared the lift to the top
floor. ‘Not that I gave your colleagues much of a choice. I told them I’d book the party if
you were the one organising it. I hope you don’t mind. It’s just that you seemed … I don’t
know, I got a good feeling about you.’

‘No, that’s fine,’ I said, willing my voice to sound calmer than I felt. Which meant
anything short of stark raving mad. ‘Once you decide which room is most suitable, we
can start talking about everything else.’

‘I knew you’d get it,’ he said.

The lift doors opened on the top floor into the wide entrance to the former
restaurant. ‘As you can see, there’s still a lot of the original nineteen thirties decor,’ I
said. ‘Especially these art deco wall sconces. I love them. Ooh, and look at that bar.’
I’d only been up there a few times, so I was as excited as Chuck as we ran around
the room pointing out each interesting feature, from the geometrically mirrored pillars
to the sexy-flapper- lady light fixtures.

‘I’m such a sucker for this old stuff,’ he said. ‘I grew up in a house full of antiques.
Older than this, actually, in Chicago.’ Then he considered me. ‘You probably grew up in a
castle from the middle ages or something, being English.’

‘That sounds draughty. No, my parents live in a nineteen fifties semi-detached
with pebble-dash.’

‘I don’t know what any of that means except for the nineteen fifties, but it sounds
exotic.’

‘Hardly. Let’s just say it looks nothing like this. Will this be big enough, though?
You said up to four hundred. That might be a squeeze if we want to seat them all.’
‘My guest list has halved, actually,’ he said, shoving his hands into his coat pockets.
‘The company isn’t letting spouses and partners come. Isn’t that weird, to exclude them
from a formal social event like that? It’s going to be black tie with dinner and dancing.
They were always invited wherever I’ve worked before.’

The painful penny dropped with a clang. Of course he’d have the perfect girlfriend
to bring along. A bloke that cute and nice wasn’t single.

‘Which company?’ I asked, covering my disappointment. ‘Your company now, I
mean.’

‘Flable and Mead. The asset managers? Sorry, I should have said before.’
Of course I’d heard of them. They were only one of the biggest firms on Wall
Street. No wonder Andi had to say yes when Chuck made his request. We were talking
big money.

And big egos. ‘I’m not surprised that other halves aren’t invited,’ I told him. Surely
he’d worked out why for himself. ‘They usually aren’t invited in the UK either. The
Christmas do is your chance to get pissed and snog a colleague.’

Chuck laughed. ‘I’m really glad I’ve seen all those Hugh Grant movies so I know
what you’re talking about. So maybe it’ll be everyone’s chance at Flable and Mead to
snog a colleague too.’ When he smiled, a dimple appeared on his left side. Just the one.
‘And as you’re working with me to organise the party, I guess that makes you my
colleague, right?’

Did he mean what I thought he meant? The cheeky sod. ‘Come on, I’ll show you the
ballroom.’

But the ballroom had nowhere near the ambiance of the top floor, and I knew
before Chuck said anything that it didn’t have the right feel. Whereas upstairs had
character and charm, the ballroom had bling. I’d only known Chuck for a matter of
hours, but already I knew he wasn’t the blingy type.

‘Definitely upstairs,’ he said. ‘So it’s done. We’ll book it. Now we just need to plan
all the decorations, the food, the band, DJ. I guess the fee goes up depending on how
much in-house stuff we use.’ He laughed. ‘I’m sorry, I really am in too deep here. I talked
my way into my job. I have no idea how. My boss is a Northwestern alum like me and
that must have swung it for me. Before I only worked organising conferences and a few
parties at the local VFW hall. This is the big time.’

I knew exactly how he felt. When I first started at the hotel I had to pinch myself.
There I was, about to live a life I’d only seen on telly. All I had to do was not muck things
up. Digby had been on hand to show me the ropes when I needed it. So the least I could
do for Chuck was to help him as much as I could.

That’s what I told myself. I was paying it forward.

‘We’ve got a range of decorations we can do,’ I told him, thinking about how much
I was going to get to see him in the upcoming weeks. I could really stretch things out by
showing him one tablecloth per visit. ‘And we work with a few good catering companies,
who I’m sure can arrange anything from a sit-down meal to a buffet. One even does
burger bars, if you want something more quirky.’

‘What I’ll want is for you to help me, Rosie. You will be able to do that, right?’
‘Of course,’ I said. ‘Whatever you need. It’s a whopping great fee your company is
paying. That buys a lot of hand-holding.’

‘I was hoping you’d say that,’ he said. ‘The second I came in and saw you, I knew
this was the right choice. We’re going to be great together, Rosie.’

I was thinking the exact same thing.




About the Author

Michelle is a USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of more than 370,000 romantic comedies, published with Penguin, HarperCollins/Avon and, most recently, HarperImpulse under 
the pen-name Lilly Bartlett.


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Giveaway:

You’re warmly invited to the Wedding of the Century with all your favourite friends. It’s the most vintage fun you’ll have this year!

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To WIN a personally inscribed paperback of this gorgeous book, simply sign up at: http://eepurl.com/b96-Yz

Winners will be randomly selected and notified on August 18th
via the email they used to sign up.

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